Owners plan to reopen Axminster’s George Hotel as a cafe/bar and restaurant in time for the summer season

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Axminster’s historic George Hotel could be reopened as an upmarket café bar in time for the summer, the Herald can reveal.

Work to complete the external and ground floor renovations is set to re-start soon, the owners have confirmed.

A spokesman for Mynster Properties said they hoped to have the bar and restaurant up and running within three months.

He said the phased programme of works would eventually lead to The George being restored to its former glory as a plush hotel, with 11 newly refurbished bedrooms.

Illness was the reason behind the lack of activity in recent months but work would begin again in the next to two three weeks, the spokesman revealed.

“We have planning permission to take the rear bay windows out on the rear wall and carpenters will replace them with French doors which will allow wheelchair access from the car park,” he said.

“They will open on to what will become a small bar which

will lead to a settee lounge area and a table and chairs area. Where the main bar used to be will become a restaurant/café served by a brand new kitchen.”

He stressed The George would not return to the days when it had one great big bar serving cheap drinks.

“We don’t want that sort of nonsense,” he said. “We want a small bar with a class atmosphere. And we want to have a proper restaurant and kitchen and put a bit of life back into the building.

“We will start slowly - I hope to open as a café bar, just during the daytime, to begin with. Then we will start work upstairs, doing up the bedrooms individually. We also want to let the ballroom out for various functions and events.

“People have said ‘why not flatten it’ but we want The George to become the hub of the community again.

“Axminster is set to grow and needs a hotel where people can stay - presently there is none in the town.”

* The George is laid out over three floors with staff accommodation into the roof space. When last open for business there was a ground floor public bar and restaurant, kitchen and basement cellars, whilst on the top two floors there were 11 en-suite bedrooms, an impressive function room with minstrels gallery and two separate flats for owner/staff accommodation.

An inn has stood on the site of the George Hotel even before it became England’s very first coaching post house.

It is said that in pre-Georgian times such grandees as the Earl of Monmouth and his supporters were there, Judge Jefferies spent a few nights there and Oliver Cromwell also had his troops and his headquarters at the old George when he was suppressing the Monmouth rebellion.

In Georgian times Lord Nelson slept there and King George III wined and dined in the Adam room before visiting the house of Thomas Whitty, founder of the now world famous Axminster carpets.

Over the years important decisions to shape the future of Axminster - and even the very nation - have been made in the Adam Room at the George Hotel.

The splendid room, with it unique minstrel’s gallery, has been used as a meeting place by a British King, Army commanders planning D-Day tactics and scores of regional and local organisations.

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